This week KK and I are off on a much needed vacation…sort of.  Actually we are attending the same conference and calling it a vacation.  Somehow any trip that doesn’t include our families and does get labeled “Vacation” manages to be one, even if we are working.  It always amazes me that naming can be so completely transformational…

The night is warm, July fading into early August heat.  Sitting on a park bench in the city we watch the passers-by, creating stories of their histories, desires, dreams…  I turn to look at her.  Curls outlined by the street lamps.  They shimmer faintly and I want to run my fingers through her hair.  My fear keeps me from touching her.  The weekend was perfect, amazing, unexpected and the question bubbles up awkward at best so I blurt it out, “What are we?”

“What do you mean, ‘What are we?'”

“I don’t know…just…What are we?  Are you my girlfriend or…”

“Sure.”

“Ok.  That’s good.  I just wanted to know before I head home.”

But it wasn’t good.  It wasn’t true.  She was never my girlfriend.  This girl I dated.  She was my other half.  From the first conversation I knew that it was different.  The question would never have made sense and yet I needed a name.  I should’ve asked, “Are you my wife?”.  I think she would’ve startled, but the answer would’ve been the same.  “Sure”

Almost three years later and I’m participating in a book group on campus (actually it’s more of a manuscript book since the text hasn’t yet been published).  The text we are reading is a new work on the history of Marriage in the US.  As someone who was married, is no longer, and hopes to be once again the subject is fascinating to me.  I have always been highly critical of the civil institution and supportive of the personal/religious contract.  I don’t understand why we should have any structures in our society that benefit those who have partners over those who do not.  It’s a silly holdover from a bygone era.  And yet, that simple act of “getting married” carries so much weight that the moment my partner and I started talking about it I found myself going all giddy and trolling websites for a perfect dress.  (For the record she wins in the giddy category – although she immediately began designing the perfect wedding shoes on the converse website.)  While I may not support the civic gifts that come with the contract we will someday sign I do want the name it accords.  I want to be able to call her my wife and have others believe me.  I want the world to know that this thing has always been true.

If you haven’t yet read this article I highly recommend it.  http://www.suntimes.com/news/steinberg/3526027-452/ketterson-academy-naval-usna-husband.html

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